Not Updated For Current Season
Soraka, the Starchild. She is among the most underestimated champions in the game. Although she can be built to deal serious magic damage, primarily, she is a supporting character. As a rule of thumb, supports don't really work on 3v3, which is why this guide assumes the battle is taking place on Summoner's Rift. She may kick *** there, but don't expect Soraka to hold a lane all by herself. Do expect endless survivability for her allies.
Both her attack damage and toughness are worthless. Therefore, her strengths lie almost entirely in her four abilities. Both ability power and cooldown reduction help in getting the most out of these abilities. Per unit gold invested, cooldown reduction adds more to here healing output than AP (except in the earliest stage of the game), but normally has a proportional increase in mana usage. However, CDR on Soraka means you also get to cast Infuse more often, increasing your mana regeneration. Therefore, the main focus of our build is reaching the 40% CDR hard-cap as soon as possible.
Although you are playing the somewhat overpowered rescuer also known as Soraka, that's no guarantee to win matches. No guide, no matter how extensive, will guarantee such a thing. If you do win, your stats will suck. So be it. Ideally, you would have zero kills, the fewest deaths, the highest number of assists and the lowest number of minions killed.
This guide is merely supposed to provide a solid set of tactics and builds to play Soraka. Experienced players will without a doubt disagree on a lot of stuff outlined in this document just as much as I have with other guides. That's fine. Hopefully, this one will give you some new insights that help improve your game either way.
By choosing the right masteries, we can already achieve 9% cooldown reduction by investing in Sorcery and Intelligence. We will need at least 8 points in Offense and 20 in Utility to do this, so it will be little surprise we're using a pretty standard 9/0/21 setup that varies slightly depending on what summoner spells we'll want to upgrade.
Getting Greed might also be viable. This particular mastery is often considered to be of low value, but works far better on Soraka than it does on most other champions.
The Greater Glyphs of Focus provide us with an extra 5.89% cooldown reduction. This brings our CDR to a total of nearly 15% at the start of the game, leaving the opportune amount of 25% for items to reach the cap. Other runes worth using are:
- Magic resist (To Soraka, far more dangerous than a steady stream of damage is a sudden nuke, which is usually magic damage)
- AP (Pick flat runes rather than AP per level, since Soraka already excels in late-game)
Exhaust is a great spell. Not only is its slow a great tool for helping you escape, unlike Ghost, Cleanse or Flash, it can also help your allies escape. Not only can it help you or your teammates get away, it can also keep them alive by suddenly dropping 70% of a target's attack damage, so pick your targets carefully. Very fitting for your role as support, and unless you're going with critical chance or Smite, you'll have a point in its mastery anyway.
The ultimate escape spell. Because your auto attacks are ranged and you can stay well back - you don't even need to have enemies in range to be of use - you have time and opportunity to plan an escape and position yourself in a way that allows you to flash over terrain and out of harm's way. It also allows you to quickly reach teammates in distress and it helps you close the gap to safety in the laning phase.
Soraka is slow and has no real escapes of her own. Ghost can help you avoid being left behind on the wrong end of the pack and its mastery Haste is readily available in a 9/0/21 setup. Also a good choice.
Fortify is awesome. Underestimated and underused. It is Soraka's only method to properly defend a turret, can be used to punish towerdiving enemies who misjudge your ability to heal yourself and goes great with the map awareness Wish requires you to have anyway. Its mastery Reinforce is however unavailable in our 9/0/21 build and Soraka has no skills that would actually trap or keep enemies in tower range.
This spell is always nice to have on your team and helps a lot with map awareness. Mystical Vision is available in the bottom of the utility tree. The burden on getting this, if it's taken at all, is usually on the support, though Soraka does not benefit directly from this spell.
Unlike most champions, Soraka will be useless and exposed by any disabling attack, whether it is slow, taunt or silence. For this and other obvious reasons, you should make sure you're not hit at all. If this proves too difficult or doesn't fit your playing style, Cleanse may be useful, but keep in mind you will still be struggling to get away because of your low movement speed. Inferior to other escapes.
If you need this, you've either distributed your mana recovery wrongly, you've invested too few levels in the skill Infuse or you've been too eager to damage and silence opponents.
Although it would seem to fit a supporting champion, its healing output is so much lower than the output provided by Astral Blessing and Wish, chances of running into situations where this spell will save lifes and your abilities will not are extremely rare and not worth wasting a valuable spell slot on. Not recommended.
Soraka's worst enemy. Allies that are low on health are twice as hard to save when they have been hit by ignite. That doesn't mean you should get it. You're support, remember?
Not great. Soraka lacks firepower to save a turret from any serious incoming attack by herself. You'll be at the front lines in a blink of an eye not saving the day. Also, because of her health and mana regeneration and limited farming, you won't be recalling as much, leaving few situations where this spell may be useful.
I don't think this is useful on anyone anymore. Only get it if you want to look cool.
Jungling can be made so much easier and more efficient with a heal and armor bonus now and then. If you're a jungler that is. Soraka is not. Don't take Smite. Please.
This one is easy. It is safe to assume Soraka will hardly die at all and even if your whole team is wiped out, there is no point in rushing a support back to the field.
In deciding what items to get, focus on achieving maximum cooldown reduction, as soon as possible. Eliminating items that are mainly used to increase attack damage, attack speed, armor, or are otherwise unfit for Soraka, we end up with the following possibilities:
Fiendish Codex (10%, 1245g)
- Deathfire Grasp (15%, 2610g)
- Morello's Evil Tome (20%, 2350g)
Kindlegem (10%, 850g)
- Shurelya's Reverie (15%, 2200g)
- Soul Shroud (10%, 2285g)
- Spirit Visage (10%, 1550g)
Ionian Boots of Lucidity (15%, 1050g)
Personally, I prefer Soul Shroud because it is an aura item and is built out of a Mana Manipulator, which is a great starting item, and the Ionian Boots of Lucidity, because it's the cheapest way of getting the final 15%, especially since you're going to be spending 350g on boots anyway.
If you plan on going for the Ionian Boots, the Boots of Speed may also be a great starting item. It will help you develop CDR really early on, but you will lack items that will actually support your teammates at first. I get this whenever I'm forced to lane with a champion who does not use mana.
Whatever you do, avoid Doran's items. Since you won't be gathering a lot of gold by last hitting, you need a compact build without items that cannot be upgraded. Besides, the main purpose of Doran's items is to grant a little extra survivability at the start of the match, something your healing output will make obsolete.
If you're not taking the Ionian Boots, other choices from the movement category could be Boots of Mobility, since you will be out of combat a lot, or Mercury's Treads, a solid choice against any enemy team that packs a lot of magic damage and disables.
Out of the three possibilities, Shurelya's Reverie is, in my opinion, the worst item that can be built out of a Kindlegem. Most of its value lies in the fact that it is also built out of a Philosopher's Stone. The extra income can make a huge difference on Soraka, but at the cost of significantly delaying your cooldown reduction.
By the time you've reached the 40% CDR mark, you'll want to invest in AP to further increase your healing output, unless you are in desperate need of more survivability. In that case, there are some obvious choices that will work on any champion, such as Banshee's Veil, Warmog's Armor or Guardian Angel, but you will probably lack the last hits to purchase these expensive items. Aegis of the Legion is a solid choice. Because its aura provides defense bonuses to all allies in range, it works especially well against opponents with bad focus. Another affordable option is Quicksilver Sash, which I recommend whenever you are continuously overwhelmed by nasty disables.
You can also combine survivability with Ability Power by getting a Abyssal Scepter, although its aura is probably a better fit on a champion that is a lot less squishy and gets to be in the front of the pack.
If your number of deaths are still acceptable, I choose either: Mejai's Soulstealer, Will of the Ancients, or Rabadon's Deathcap. The latter is the safest choice and can always be built afterwards. Will of the Ancients is great if you have a lot of teammates who benefit from additional AP, but as for any aura item, make sure no one in your team is building it or already has.
Your assist count is through the roof (as it should be) and you feel like you can survive any attack. Mejai's Soulstealer is a great snowball item. Don't get it for the cooldown reduction though. Even if you eventually do get twenty stacks, which is unlikely, you'll be kicking so much ***, you don't even need it anymore. My motto is plan for situations where you can still make a difference, not for games that are already won or lost.
From five stacks up, Mejai's Soulstealer starts to pay off. It will give you 60 Ability Power, which is more AP per gold than items like Blasting Wand or Needlessly Large Rod. That doesn't mean you should get it whenever you expect to get more than five stacks though. If your assists go up at a steady rate, you would on average have had only 32 AP extra from the time you bought the item to the time you get your fifth stack. You need to keep your stacks above the magical number of five for some time for this item to be cost effective.
Four different abilites lie at Soraka's disposal. We'll discuss them briefly.
Starcall is great for pushing your lane, farming and its debuff of reducing magic resist. None of those really match your role. I hold off on getting this until I cannot level my heals any further and can easily keep up with mana usage, or until the laning phase is over and I no longer need to leave last hits for my partner.
Astral Blessing is your primary ability. It is the main source of your healing output and provides an added armor bonus which is great for saving lifes and pushing towers. Level this as soon as possible.
Infuse may be nearly as important. It allows you and your allies to keep using abilities without running out of mana. Combined with restoring health, it basically removes the need for any of you to recall except for shopping. When cast on an enemy, it silences them, which may allow you or your teammates to get away safely. Put as many levels into this as you need to keep a steady stream of heals.
Wish is Soraka's ultimate and heals everyone on your team. It is great for quickly bringing everyone up to full health, gathering assists from halfway across the map or rescueing a teammate you cannot get to in time. Make sure not to just go by the amount of health remaining though. Also check how the battle is going to enfold and try to distinguish a lost cause from a close call. Awareness is everything.
The game has begun. Which lane should we go to? One of the side lanes, for sure. There's no use in having a support character when there are no allies nearby to support. If you have a jungler, avoid the other solo lane, usually top. If you can, team up with someone who uses (lots of) mana to get the most out of your Infuse and, if you bought one, your Mana Manipulator. Ideally, you'll want a partner who can afford to go in deep and take some hits while you heal them from a safe distance. That doesn't mean you have to team up with an all out tank, though. Although you will be quite unlikely to die, if your lane doesn't have the slightest bit of damage, your opponents are even less likely to. Unless there's a high DPS jungler on your side, you'll still be at a disadvantage. Also, a tank's maximum HP is usually higher than that of other champions, meaning your heals will restore relatively less health.
The same goes for heavy casters. Champions benefit most from your mana restoration when they would normally be running low all the time, but whose mana pool and absolute MP costs are small.
Should you know which enemies you are going to encounter, you can use that to your advantage as well. As said before, nukes are bad news. Ignite is best avoided too. Ranged DPS can also spell disaster. One of the perks of having Soraka is being able to slow down, back up, resupply and jump straight back in, but this is impossible if you can't engage on your own terms.
On the other hand, being up against a lot of physical damage will put the armor buff of Astral Blessing to great use. Also be vigilant of hostiles who will truly hate your ability to silence them half the time from a large distance, or just whenever they're about to cast their interruptible ultimate.
Below is a list of champions that are either good or bad combinations with Soraka. The list is not exhaustive, nor very accurate and provides no guarantees your lane will be a walk in the park. Results may vary and are heavily dependant on other involved champions and individual playing style and performance. The list is merely based upon my and other people's experience with Soraka and basic theory.
Tough to beat
Into the jungle
Well frankly, yes, it can be done. With the right runes, masteries, spells and items, that is. In fact, using Starcall, clearing the wraith camp is fairly easy. As for the other neutral monsters, you still need a lot of help from your teammates, especially in the beginning. There is one big advantage to a Soraka jungler: constantly roaming means you can help out any lane whenever it's necessary, instead of idling whenever your partner does not need heals.
There are however many cons that outweigh this. Your job is to support your teammates, not the other way around. You will be very susceptible to counterjungling. Not having a partner is a waste of your supporting capabilities. You will need a build that has little use outside the jungle. This guide will therefore not go into detail on how to survive the jungle in the first place, let alone be effective.
For champions better suited to face the jungle, Soraka can be a valuable tool nonetheless. Pulling a monster, and providing your ally with a heal and armor buff can grant enough survivability to last significantly longer without the need to recall. Your Starcall's magic resistance debuff also greatly improves the damage output of junglers such as Rammus, but do so with caution. Especially during the first few minutes, gaining enough experience to level up is of much more use to a jungler than an HP boost every now and then. Make sure you are not in XP range whenever a neutral monster falls.
The very beginning
So you have picked a lane and chosen Astral Blessing to start with. A good choice. Infuse may have been the way to go if you were to mass gank at the 2 minute mark and were in need of a nuke and silence, but mana regeneration is most certainly useless without mana consuming abilities.
Although you start out with a heal, don't use it. Or at least, try not to. Sure, keep yourself and your ally safe, but don't keep them at full health. A common pitfall is for people to play very aggressive, thinking Soraka will restore whatever HP they lose. She needs to be at least level three though to be able to heal properly. Here's why.
During levels 1 and 2, her healing output averages a mere 7.1 HP/s. The mana cost of continuous healing is 10.6 MP/s. She can restore 2.0 MP/s using Infuse. During levels 3 and 4, her healing output has increased to 14.1 HP/s. This will cost her 12.9 MP/s of which 6.9 MP/s is regenerated. Ergo, heals that are held off until you've reached level three are nearly three times as efficient. Had you used them from the start, your mana pool would probably have been drained.
When you've reached this level 3 mark, you probably will have noticed farming with Soraka is quite hard. Her attack damage and attack rate are low and the delay on her attacks are insanely long. Fortunately, you don't need to farm anyway. Leave as much last hits as you can for your partner, who is probably going to need a lot more items than you do.
Another thing to remember is to stay behind your partner if you can, especially if the situation seems dire. Three of your abilities can help either of you get out alive, but are unavailable should you be disabled or cost valuable time to cast when instead, you want to be running for your life. For the same reason, if you have enough health to be relatively safe for the moment, get others back on full HP first.
This is not only a good idea in the laning phase. The very basic truth is that you have small windows of opportunity to heal others, whereas you are always in range of an Astral Blessing yourself. And should you die, you'll want to give maximize chances for nearby teammates to avenge your death, something that is a lot harder to do when the support needs to hunt the bastard down.
You've made it to level six and you are finally able to cast your ultimate. Using it as often as you can will naturally increase your overall healing output, but it has more specific uses than Astral Blessing, for example.
- Saving a champion across the map
This is the most obvious scenario, but don't hit R whenever an ally is dangerously low on health. Constantly browse the minimap and check fights in detail. Try to keep track of how health bars are progressing, anticipate the outcome of the battle and whether the time Wish will buy you is actually enough for any realistic escape. Don't be afraid to save your ultimate when you see a dead man walking.
- Adding survivability in every lane at once
If you can afford to leave your station for a while to resupply the mid lane, do so. A roaming Soraka is not ideal, but better than one who has no one to heal or give mana to. Wish however allows you to do this even when your presence is required in your lane.
- Readying your team for combat after a fight quickly
Unless you are truly dominating, your team will most likely be worn down after a won teamfight. Often it is however a great chance to push deep into enemy territory and push towers or attack the dragon or baron. Wish will save you a lot of time that would otherwise be spent recalling, and you will nearly have your global heal ready again by the time the enemy respawns.
- Gathering assists
Seventy per cent of the gold earned by making a kill is equally distributed over anyone who got an assist for it. If there are no assists, no one gets this money. Casting your ultimate within ten seconds before a kill will make sure you're not wasting gold or stacks on your Mejai's Soulstealer, for example.
- Aiding your team when facing death
Are you about to be shred to pieces? Always cast Wish. It may not be enough to safe yourself, it might not even help your allies, but you'll have it back by the time you respawn.
- Supporting your team when unable to participate directly
You're back at the base just when a skirmish is about to take place, or you notice a large incoming wave that is a threat to your tower. One of the perks of playing Soraka is that you can support your team from a distance. That doesn't mean you should break formation all the time. Sometimes it can be beneficial. Use common sense.
Think twice about using your ultimate whenever people are recalling anyway, are already close to the fountain or whenever a big fight is about to take place.
Because all these factors have to be taken into consideration and you'll have to make split second decisions, getting the most out of your heals can be tricky. A skill you will definitely have to master is constantly being aware of everything that's going on. You can use the portaits on the left hand side of the screen to do this, but don't trust them too much. They are not always up to date, though scrolling around the map to get a glimpse of a champion seems to refresh his portrait.
Sometimes, you can use enemy abilities to your advantage and raise your awareness. For example, Wish is a great counter to Karthus's ultimate. Whenever you see him channeling this ability, assume he has spotted prey who is dangerously low on health and requires immediate healing to survive. The same goes for Nocturne's ultimate. It's a great indication of sudden action and a reminder that somewhere, someone probably could use some help. Of course, the best indicator of all is to have basic voice communication through which your friends can request a global heal.
Buying wards is one of the most obvious and important investments in awareness, and it's your job. Whenever you're up against a stealth character, getting a vision ward early will severely limit his usefulness in the laning phase. Sight wards also help you anticipate ganks, to which you are especially vulnerable if the opposing team has a jungler, and defend major neutral camps such as the dragon. The reason Soraka should be dedicated to this job is twofold. Early on, it makes more sense for your partner to gather gold and experience than it does for you, so if you have to shop for wards, allow your partner to stay in his lane. Secondly, Soraka's core build is tiny. Although ability power is useful, it is highly optional. Spending what little gold you have in wards rather than AP has no huge impact on your champion's performance when you've reached the cooldown reduction cap.
A note on warding. On the side lanes, it is fairly common to place wards immediately in the closest riverside brush, especially on vertical lanes, where hostile ganks may originate from the enemy's jungle. Keep in mind Soraka is slow and squishy. This ward might not save you if you're zoning the enemy out or pushing their tower. It is usually better to ward further along the river. You risk not seeing the gank at all, but avoid the risk being unable to escape anyway. As an added bonus, you'll have vision on the dragon or blue buff as well.
Holding your lane
Although you can be of some use to your team from a distance, the reverse is not necessarily true. Whenever you're caught up in a lane where there's still an outer turret to defend and hostile aggression starts to pick up, call for help. Call it in early and make sure your teammates know it is urgent. Smart enemies will not engage you under your tower. Instead, they will ignore your presence altogether, attack the turret and watch how your plan to scare them off with all the damage you can conjure, horribly fails.
If your teammates are unable to back you up in time, don't be a hero. Whenever you see a turret that's on the brink of destruction, accept the fact that there's nothing else for you to do than to walk away, take your losses and resume the winning elsewhere.
This is where Soraka excels. She is a teamplayer, and 5v5 simply has more team than 2v2. The most important aspect of winning teamfights with this champion is positioning. Because you're a healer, the enemy will try to focus you. Do not let them.
That may sound as trivial and useless advice as not letting the enemy destroy your nexus. And it would be for most other champions. Soraka however, has the perk of being able to afford keeping a distance. Keeping enough room and friendly champions between you and the enemy to be safe, would normally render a player unable to participate in the fight, even if it's a ranged DPS. But at the start of a teamfight, Soraka doesn't even need to be in range to heal, let alone be hit.
Soraka should jump into action as soon as an ally needs his health restored. Obviously, that only happens after the enemy has started to engage. Unless your positioning is off, you will never be the first to be focused, because no opponent will survive an attempt to get you in range.
Keeping a distance is beneficial for a second reason. Be on your guard for area of effect disables, such as Amumu's ultimate Curse of the Sad Mummy. Abilities like this are quite capable of causing massive mayhem and inspiring its targets to flee rather than fight back. As long as Soraka is not caught up in the disable, she can keep her allies fresh enough to stand their ground.
If your Flash spell is up, take this into consideration as well. Position yourself near a ramp or a stretch of trees and plan your escape. Playing with proper care goes a long way, but you cannot win every teamfight. Should things turn ugly and you're forced to retreat, you'll be able to flash to safety immediately.
- Use Alt-W and ALT-E to cast abilities on yourself.
- Target your restoration abilities on portraits to avoid misclicking.
- Postpone healing champions affected by Ignite or Grievous wound until the debuff wears off.
- Restore MP only when running out during teamfights to keep silence out of cooldown.
- Try to get the blue buff as much as possible until you've reached your CDR cap.
- Soraka is great bait during laning. Tower divers often underestimate her heals, use this to your advantage.
- Infuse has more range than Astral blessing. When moving towards an ally, restore mana, then health, and vice versa when moving away.
- The casting delay on Starcall is very low, which often makes the ability viable even during escapes, but make sure you maintain enough mana to cast heals.
- Starcall being available is a sign targets are in range, even when hidden from sight. Casting it won't deal damage, but may reveal exactly where the enemy has placed a ward or trap.
Why cooldown reduction over AP?
During the first few levels, Soraka's heals will benefit a lot from ability power, which is why flat AP runes are great. The AP-ratio of her abilities is fixed however. Once you max your Astral Blessing around level 9, CDR proves more important. Our core build of Soul Shroud and the Ionian Boots of Lucidity will cost us 3335g and give us a healing rate of 53 HP/s. Even if we put Rabadon's Deathcap against that, which has the highest AP to gold ratio in the game, its equivalent healing rate will barely make that figure with 55 HP/s. Since it is built out of rather expensive items, we would have to give up our starting build and a lot of mana, since our MP restoration does not benefit from AP.
Soraka is squishy. Why not buy more defensive items?
I buy as much as I need and usually, that's very little. Of course, if you're constantly beat up before you can do any healing, put your main build on hold and get some survivability. But even if you do die a lot, ask yourself this question: am I always the first one to fall? If you're not, you may still be better off increasing your healing output so your team can stay alive longer and keep you safe.
Soraka without Clairvoyance? Are you mad?!
Especially on US servers and in higher ELO matches, you will see this comment. To be frank, I think taking this spell on Soraka is way more common than it ought to be. Clairvoyance is a spell that benefits anyone in your team equally, regardless of who casts it, and should therefore go to the champion who can afford to drop one of his own spells. If you can, that's awesome. I find I'm just too vulnerable without my second escape.
Shouldn't you put one level in Starcall earlier for its debuff and to help you farm?
Well, that is a very legitimate tactic. Starcall however, requires a somewhat more offensive style and prefers ability power over cooldown reduction. This in turn increases the need for defensive items and leaves less last hits for our partner. Starcall is great, but not very compatible with the build we're aiming for in this guide.
I would like to conclude this guide by expressing my thanks to the reader. I sincerely hope this guide will prove to be a helpful resource for all Soraka fans out there and that it may help you enjoy playing the ultimate supporting champion. Enough talk, time to put your plan into action and convince the world Soraka is a force to be reckoned with. See you on the battlegrounds...